Birding in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls is home to a variety of birds, some of which are uncommon, common, and only appear on occasion. Murchison Falls National Park is widely renowned for the Shoebill stork, a prehistoric bird that is much sought for.

Birding at Murchison Falls National Park is one of the most memorable activities in the park. Murchison Falls has the top birding locations in the world, with over 451 bird species, including the Albert rift endemic. Birds, including water birds and Savannah birds, may be found in the Riverine Vegetation.  Murchison Falls national park is home to a variety of birds, some of which are uncommon, common, and only appear on occasion. Murchison Falls National Park is widely renowned for the Shoebill stork, a prehistoric bird that is much sought for.

About Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park, located on the northern side of the Albertine Rift Valley, is Uganda’s largest and most visited national park. It is the oldest national park, having been established in 1952, and it is home to numerous wildlife species, including 76 animal species, including the big four mammals such as lions, leopards, buffaloes, and elephants, as well as other animals such as warthogs, bushbucks, waterbucks, giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeest, Oribi, crocodiles, hippos, 450 bird species such as the rare shoe bill stork, primates in Budongo forest and Kaniyo Pabidi including chimpanzees, olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys among others.

Murchison Falls National Park is located 305 kilometers north of Kampala and takes approximately 5 hours to reach by car. Visitors who wish to go on a birding safari in the park can do so via road or air transport, which takes approximately one hour from Entebbe to Pakuba, Chobe, or Bugungu Airfield.

Birding in Murchison Falls National Park.

Birds at Murchison Falls national park are best seen during game drives, nature walks across savannah grasslands, and boat cruises down the Nile and on Lake Albert Delta. Birding may also be done while trekking to the top of the falls. Experienced guides will know where to look for birds and will show you rare bird species. During the low season, which runs from November through April. During the winter season, migratory birds move from Europe to Africa, bringing fresh visitors to the park.

Murchison Falls National Park takes great pride in its attractions. Its flora has benefited tremendously from reduced grazing pressure, and its small animal and bird populations are stronger than ever. A journey through the dry thorn scrub between Red Chilli and the ferry crossing from the park headquarters at Paraa on the southern side of the Victoria Nile will provide opportunities to see the silver bird, chestnut crowned sparrow weaver, blue-napped mousebird, and other species. This location is one of the most dependable for the localized white-eyed seedeater.

Night birds such as spotted Verreaux’s eagle owls and a profusion of gorgeous nightjars like plain, long-tailed, and pennant-winged may be found along Paraa’s main road. Birders who take a nighttime boat ride on the Nile in search of the white-bellied night heron and Pel’s fishing owl have an unforgettable experience on the world’s longest river. The secretive birds are plentiful in the abundant environment upstream of Paraa, despite the fact that they sleep in deep waterside foliage and are rarely observed during the day.

Notable Bird species in Murchison Falls National Park

  • Shoebill Stork
  • Murchison African Darter
  • Giant Kingfisher
  • Osprey
  • Long-toed Plover
  • Grey-headed Kingfisher
  • Veracious Dove
  • Black-headed Lapwing
  • Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
  • Rock Pratincole
  • Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird
  • Black-billed Barbet
  • Long-tailed Nightjar bird
  • Weaver Birds
  • Yellow-billed Stork
  • Martial Eagle
  • Silver bird
Birding in Murchison Falls National Park
  • Gray-crowned crested crane
  • Sandpipers
  • Pied Kingfishers
  • Standard-winged Nightjar
  • Malachite Kingfishers
  • Blue-headed Coucal
  • Denham’s Bustard
  • Birding Swamp Flycatcher
  • Giant Heron
  • African Jacana
  • Secretary Bird
  • Read-throated Bee-eater
  • Saddle-billed stork
  • Senegal Thick-Knee
  • Red-winged Grey Warbler

How Is Birding in Murchison Falls National Park done?

The park is home to around 450 bird species, making it a bird lover’s delight, including water birds, woodland birds, migratory birds, and other bird species specific to the Albertine Rift. Birds in the park might be seen during park events such as;

Birding during Game Drives in Murchison Falls National Park.

Game drives in the savannah grassland may be done in the morning or evening, following several routes such as Queen’s track, Albert track, and Buligi game track. Among the bird species seen during the game drive are the secretary bird, open-billed stork, Abyssinian ground hornbill, black-bellied bustard, marabou stork, and weaver birds.

Birding in Murchison Falls National Park
Birding in Murchison Falls National Park

Birding during Boat Cruise Tours in Murchison Falls National Park.

Murchison Falls National Park provides two boat trips: one upstream to the bottom of the falls and one downstream to the Victoria Nile Delta. During the boat cruise, you will be able to view various bird species such as the sought after pre-historic shoebill stork and other water birds such as goliath heron, black-headed lapwing, great blue turaco, African black crake, dwarf kingfisher, blue spotted doves, African jacana, African skimmer, malachite kingfisher, saddle billed stork, fish eagle, Blue-headed Coucal, Squacco heron, among others.

A tour on the Nile Safari Lodge’s boat assures sightings of the Shoebill stork, an amazing bird. The Shoebill lives on the island with Goliath herons, Grey-Cheeked cranes, and long-toed plovers, among other species. Yellow-throated leaf love and the unusual red-winged grey warbler may be found in the dense riverine vegetation near the Nile Safari Lodge. These birds may be viewed from the luxury tent balconies facing the river.

Birding during Guided Nature Walks in Murchison Falls National Park.

A nature walk is an interesting activity in which you will leave the safari vehicle and explore the park on foot while admiring the landscape, plants, feeling the cool wind, and spotting various bird species. A nature walk in the park may be done by following routes such as the marsh path, the Nile trail, the top of the falls, the Budongo forest, Kaniyo Pabidi woodland, and the Rubongo forest.

Among the bird species seen during the guided nature walk are silver birds, blue napped mouse birds, African pied wagtail, black kite, Fork-tailed Drongo, Western Greenbul, Olive breasted Greenbul, yellow-footed flycatcher, Guinea Congo, Pygmy Crake, chocolate-backed kingfisher, Cassin’s hawk eagle, yellow-crested woodpecker, African shrike flycatcher, swamp flycatcher, yellow browed carmaroptera, black and white casqued hornbill, speckled tinker bird, yellow spotted barbet, forest robin, white spotted fluff tail, Ituri Batis, blue-throated roller among others.  

Birding in Murchison Falls National Park

When is the best time for birding in Murchison Falls National Park?

Birding can be done in Murchison Falls National Park at any time of year, but the best time is during the dry season, from January to March when there will be more bird species and the birding trails will be passable, as opposed to the wet season, when the birding trails will be muddy and slippery, making your birding safari in Murchison Falls National Park difficult. During the dry season in June, it is a breeding season for birds at Murchison Falls National Park, therefore bird lovers will be able to see a variety of colorful bird species on their birding safari.

Heavy rains fall between April and May, and between August and October, making bird watching difficult owing to slick roads and inaccessible pathways

Other Activities to do along Birding in Murchison Falls National Park.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Murchison Falls National Park

Chimpanzee tracking with several chimp families in Kaniyo Pabidi woodland along the Rabongo forest is one of the most memorable and exciting activities during your safari to Murchison Falls National Parks. It takes around 3 hours to follow chimpanzees, with 1 hour spent watching these closest primates near humans. It begins in the Kaniyo Pabidi eco site with a briefing from ranger guides, after which you will be led into the forest in search of chimpanzees. Other primates you’ll see along the trip are the black-and-white colobus, red-tailed monkey, blue monkey, and olive baboon. Potto and other woodland galago species are nocturnal monkeys.

Budongo chimpanzee trekking usually begins with a briefing from the Budongo Eco Lodge’s information center. The forest has well-marked trails where visitors may observe the chimps as well as other smaller primates and birds. Treks with chimpanzees are undertaken in two shifts: morning and afternoon. Chimpanzees swarm around the Budongo Eco Lodge on most days of the year. However, at certain times of the year, they will go in search of fruits and water. To engage in the chimpanzee trekking activity, one must be in excellent health and free of ailments such as flu or tuberculosis.  Chimpanzees are susceptible to human illnesses. To track chimpanzees, you must also be at least 15 years old. After a recent change in management to Amos Wekesa, the cost of a chimpanzee permit in Budongo is $130. 

Chimpanzee Habituation

Chimpanzee habituation is the process through which chimps grow used to the presence of people in their environment. The entire process takes around two years. Visitors to Budongo Park are also offered the opportunity to engage in the chimp habituation process, especially during low-visitation seasons. The Chimpanzee habituation experience includes following a troop of chimps and learning about their behavior under the supervision of experienced researchers and trackers. It differs from traditional chimp trekking in that it occurs throughout the day.

Visitors have a lot more time with the monkeys. For the best chimpanzee habituation experience, wear good hiking boots, hand gloves, long-sleeved shirts/pants, sunglasses, and a cap. The Budongo forest monkey habituation experience in Murchison Falls national park costs $230. This is cheaper than the fee charged by Kibale National Park.

Sport Fishing in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park offers excellent spot fishing, particularly near the base of the falls.  The fisherman or guide will accompany you throughout the fishing adventure. The guide will provide you with fishing equipment and bait, such as worms, to be used for fishing and luring fish. Expect to capture the enormous Nile Perch, also known as Mputa or Cat-Fish (Semutundu), if you fish the Avid angler. Tiger fish, electric catfish, and tilapia (Ngara) are among the other fish. The greatest Nile Perch captured was 113kgs in the water gauge opposite the crocodile pool, while the largest catfish caught was 45kgs at the Nyamusika cliffs.

Hiking and Nature Walks in Murchison Falls National Park.

Murchison Falls National Park has a variety of routes for nature excursions and hiking. The northern bank includes excellent pathways for nature excursions, particularly along the banks of the Victoria Nile to the bottom of the falls, which is an excellent location for watching elephants in close proximity to other wildlife. The paths in Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo Forest are also excellent for spotting a variety of bird species and primates. Don’t forget to trek to the top of the falls for the best view of Murchison Falls. Visitors will also be able to witness Uhuru Falls, which means freedom and was named when Uganda gained independence, which can only be viewed from the top of the falls. Murchison Falls National Park has a breeze or cool wind that you may feel and recall. It’s a universe unto itself.

Where to stay while birding in Murchison Falls National Park?

If you are looking to spend a night or more in Murchison Falls national park, there are a number of accommodations that you can stay at ranging from budget to midrange and luxury including; Murchison River Lodge, Twiga Safari Lodge, Nile Safari Lodge, Parkside Safari Lodge, Heritage Lodge, Pakuba Safari Lodge, Paraa Safari Lodge, Chobe Safari Lodge, Fort Murchison Lodge, Bwana Tembo Safari Lodge, and Hornbill Lodge among others.

How to get to Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park may be reached in numerous ways either the Southern bank/sector or the Northern bank/sector.

Getting to the Southern Sector in Murchison Falls National Park.

It is a 5-hour journey from Kampala through Masindi; a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended for the Masindi-Paraa stretch of the road, and it takes around 297 kilometers to reach the ferry crossing site at Kichumbanyabo gate.

The park may also be reached by Bugungu gate, which runs from Hoima to Buliisa, going through Albertine Escapement, Bugungu Wildlife Reserve, and Lake Albert. The ferry crossing site is over 35 minutes and 11 kilometers away from the entrance.

Getting to the Northern Sector at Murchison Falls National Park.

Murchison Falls National Park may also be reached by turning left at Karuma Falls on the Kampala, Gulu, and Pakwach routes. It takes 6 hours and 397 kilometers on the road to go to Mubako tourism centre/office via Tangi gate.

It may also be reached through Purongo in Nwoya district, which branches off before reaching Pakwach district, to Wangkwar gate, which takes 1 hour and 36 kilometers to reach the Paraa ferry crossing site, where most activities begin.

By Air

Visitors can fly from Entebbe International Airport to the northern sector’s Pakuba airstrip or the southern sector’s Bugungu airstrip of Murchison Falls National Park. Flights last no more than two hours and require a minimum of four passengers.

It departs Entebbe Airport at 1200 hours and arrives in Murchison Falls National Park at 1300 hours. The aircraft from the park departs at 1315 hours and arrives at Entebbe Airport at 1615 hours.

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